Voters booted Davis for Schwarzenegger a decade ago
Ten years ago today, California capped one of wildest electoral circuses in American history.
On Oct. 7, 2003, voters deeply dissatisfied with incumbent Gov. Gray Davis recalled the beleaguered Democrat, choosing Republican challenger Arnold Schwarzenegger out of a field of more than 100 candidates.
It marked a momentous political moment, the first gubernatorial recall in California history and just the second in the nation’s history.
It also presented an unparalleled spectacle, complete with a field of candidates that featured a sumo wrestler, a porn actress, a used car dealer, and – if you can believe it – a wildly popular European bodybuilder turned movie star.
“I will not fail you, I will not disappoint you, and I will not let you down,” that movie star told voters the night they elected him.
Historians and political observers are still dissecting what the recall accomplished.
Former California Fair Political Practices Commission chairman Dan Schnur opined recently in The Sacramento Bee that it ushered in outsider-driven structural reforms to state politics.